Lancaster man admits in court to killing teen, then chopping and burning body.
LANCASTER, S.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - A Lancaster man who killed a teen roommate in 2018 before dismembering and burning the body has been sentenced to 60 years in a South Carolina prison.
Christopher Allen Holford, 33, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the death of Austin Tyler Steele, 18.
In court, Holford admitted he shot Steele in the throat. Holford admitted he cut up the body and buried burned bones around a Lancaster property on High Pointe Circle where the two men lived with Holford’s wife, according to court testimony.
Holford, Steele, and Holford’s wife, Brandy Nicole Faye Duncan, 22, lived together in the mobile home, prosecutors said in court.
Steele survived for hours after being shot in February 2018, 6th Circuit assistant solicitor Luck Campbell said in court. Campbell and assistant solicitor Melissa McGinnis prosecuted the case.
“Bones and burned body parts were found all over the property,” McGinnis said in court.
Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the body parts in March 2018, testimony showed. Law enforcement began the search of the property after information given to police led to the body parts, according to deputies.
HOLFORD ADMITS THE KILLING, DISMEMBERMENT
Holford did not speak in court Thursday except to plead guilty.
He initially denied involvement in the crime and blamed his wife, prosecutors said in court. Holford later admitted to the killing and cover-up in statements to police and letters sent from jail, prosecutors said.
In those letters, Holford called the killing and dismemberment “a sloppy kill,” court testimony showed. He signed one letter, “Hatchet Man,” prosecutors said in court.
In the letters, Holford claimed to be sorry for the killing, testimony showed.
Holford is a registered sex offender who was released from a Missouri prison in 2016 after a child molesting conviction, according to prosecutors and court records. Holford has other convictions for drugs and weapons violations that date back to 2005, records show.
Holford’s court-appointed lawyer, Alston DeVenny, said in court that Holford was physically and sexually abused during childhood. Devenny said the same letters where Holford admitted to the killing and dismemberment showed Holford had remorse.
Holford’s plea deal was for a sentence of between 50 and 60 years in prison, testimony showed.
VICTIM REMEMBERED AS SWEET AND LOVING
Steele’s sister, Angela Sistar, said in court that Steele had autism and was a sweet and loving person. Sitar said Holford was a “cold-blooded murderer.”
“Austin did not deserve what was done to him,” Sistar said in court.
Sistar and sheriff’s office detectives who worked the case argued that Holford deserved the maximum of 60 years in prison.
South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons agreed.
A charge of accessory after the fact in a murder against Duncan, remains pending, according to prosecutors and court records.
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